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Posta’s brush with ‘history’

before after

Calcutta, May 26: For Gopal Narayan Sharma, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s swearing-in at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s forecourt lasted only 13 minutes.

The 72-year-old trader of spices in Posta had been waiting for months to see Modi take oath as Prime Minister.

A smart shower in Calcutta minutes before the ceremony took off in Delhi could not deter Sharma from coming to Basak Street off Kalakar Street, about 1km from his Posta shop, and watching it on a large screen with close to 200 people.

At 6.13pm, as soon as Modi finished taking oath, Sharma stood up with the support of his stick and started walking back towards his gaddi (office).

“I was here only to see Modi take oath as Prime Minister. I neither know most of those who are being sworn in as ministers nor am I interested in seeing them,” smiled Sharma.

He was not the only one. The 200-odd traders, students and BJP workers who had gathered outside the three-storey building to watch the event were only there to see Modi take oath.

Sarthak Agarwal does not know who took oath immediately after Modi. He had come to watch the programme with his three friends. The student of commerce in a south Calcutta college lives on Basak Street, one of the few places in Burrabazar where residences still outnumber commercial establishments, and decided to “cheer Modiji” with other fans.

“I don’t know who took oath immediately after NaMo. I didn’t sit in front of the television that long and started to celebrate with my friends,” said Agarwal, a sheepish grin on his face. He started playing with gulal with his friends as soon as Modi finished taking oath.

Sarthak’s friend Anuj Pachisa said Modi was a “cult” figure.

From Malapara to Kalakar Street, from Banstalla to Sona Patti — the commercial hub of Burrabazar was eagerly waiting for 6pm on May 26, the moment Modi was scheduled to be sworn in.

Burrabazar had more than one reason to look forward to today’s ceremony. The trading hub falls under the Jorasanko Assembly constituency, where BJP Lok Sabha candidate Rahul Sinha led by over 15,000 votes.

“From all the (katras) markets to offices, people were planning how and where to watch the swearing-in. The excitement was palpable,” said Meena Devi Purohit, the councillor of Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s ward 22, under which Basak Street falls.

Several large-screen TVs had been put up in various places in Burrabazar to ensure nobody missed the “historic moment”. In every lane, a TV had been placed on a wooden table or a makeshift podium. Loudspeakers had been put up so that everybody could hear the commentary on TV.

When Modi got off his car at Rashtrapati Bhavan a few minutes before 6pm, women in the Burrabazar crowd played conch shells. Slogans of “ghar ghar Modi” rent the air.

In the land of rossogollas and sandesh, laddoos ruled the roost this evening. BJP leaders in Burrabazar distributed several thousand laddoos among party workers and residents.